Friday, December 22, 2006

Post about the blog (or meta-post) Christmas weekend

The watch will take its first days off ever over the next few days. The Mrs. and I will be flying back East to be with family for the holiday weekend. Updates will resume on Tuesday evening (That's Wednesday morning for the bulk of the world that lives east of California.) Merry Christmas and happy day-off.

Prickly City

Only two for this Friday:

Barkeater Lake by Corey Pandolph
Prickly City by guest cartoonist Rob Harrell

Corey Pandolph has decided to resume Barkeater Lake later in January on his own website. As a self-published (and surely irregularly published) comic strip, it will no longer be a candidate for the watch. It will be exciting to see how many SPPs he can squeeze in here in his last few days of eligibility. (Pandolph is also selling signed copies of the first Barkeater Lake collection, order here.)

Guest cartoonists have been filling in on Prickly City as Scott Stantis recovers from rotator cuff surgery (Cartoonists evidently share the same health risks as major league pitchers.) The guests have included Lio's Mark Tatulli, and Pooch Cafe's Paul Gilligan. By reaching out across the comic strip community, it almost suggests that Prickly City is indeed a comic strip first and a conservative mouth-piece second. It's things like this that make Prickly City so immensely more tolerable than Mallard Fillmore.

Christmas pleasantry #4: I don't hate Prickly City like I hate Mallard Fillmore.

And, finally, before I take my Christmas break, I'll leave you with the best Mark Trail panel in a long time.

Happy holidays.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Just a pair of right-facing silent penultimate panels today:

Arlo & Janis by Jimmy Johnson
Barkeater Lake by Corey Pandolph

Dilbert is off the watch today. On another day it might count, but I'm being nice for Christmas, and daily Dilbert rarely ever appears here.

And that brings me to today's Christmas pleasantry. Dilbert is drawn with the finesse of a drunk gorilla, the characters are two-dimensional and interchangeable, and it's immensely popular among some very annoying people. But it really is one of the most consistently funny comic strips out there. The gags are lean and swift and the pace never meanders. It's consistently three quick panels of rapid-fire funny.

Christmas nice #3: Dilbert's no classic, but it sure is funny sometimes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ballard Street

Four silent penultimate panels for Wednesday:

Cow and Boy by Mark Leiknes
On the FasTrack by Bil Holbrook
Overboard by Chip Dunham
Sally Forth by Francesco Marciuliano and Craig Macintosh

Sally Forth and Overboard both use a double-silent build up. And both are quite awkward. (And as I've said countless times now, the borderless panels in Sally Forth do not work.)

And speaking of Sally Forth, and this was brought up in the comments, they've been in this line all week. Back in the day, I had a creative writing professor who talked about what he called the "pathetic fallacy," that is, the false notion that form should imitate content. For example, an undergraduate creative writing major (like I once was) would defend certain criticism of his work by saying that his story was intentionally boring because the story itself is about boredom (as I once did.) It really doesn't work that way. A good story about boredom can and should be engagingly written. So what I am saying is that this week's Sally Forth is excruciatingly tedious and I hate it.

But it's Christmas week and I want to say nice things. So, let me mention briefly one of my favorite comics that never gets mentioned here. (It is a single panel cartoon.) Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen.

My favorite kind of gags are ones that don't telegraph themselves, that are surprising and unique. Ballard Street is basically about old people with absolutely insane interior lives. They express themselves through complex contraptions and their friends and loved ones respond with dry and restrained aplomb. Basically, every day is the same joke. It roughly goes "look at this old man--he's crazy," but every day is a new and unexpected riff of that joke.

Christmas cheer number 2: Ballard Street is pretty funny.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas nice

Another three for Tuesday

Bob the Squirrel by Frank Page
Frazz by Jef Mallett
Overboard by Chip Dunham

I had planned on spending this last week before Christmas saying nice things and I just realized its Tuesday already and I haven't started.

A comment from Fluffy: Another SPP at today. C'mon, give indie comics more love. I found your weblog because of Shannon Wheeler linking here.

And you are right, here it is.

And you are also right that I don't spend much time talking about web comics. By choice, I've limited the scope of the watch to mostly newspaper comics. This is because, first of all, I love reading a daily newspaper and the comics inside it. It's been a daily ritual for me for about as long as I have had the ability to read. This blog, despite what my constant criticism may suggest, really is just a daily love letter to newspaper comics. Second, most self-published web comics are really bad. They are amateur juvenilia created by people still learning their craft. To criticize and dissect them would just be cruel, and, most importantly, not very funny.

Narbonic, though is different. It's really good. It's well-drawn, witty, and unique--and extremely professional. There is no reason why its creator, Shaoenen K. Garrity, isn't nationally syndicated and very famous. But, for the most part, it will remain off the watch just because of my arbitrary limitations.

So there it is, nice Christmas sentiment #1. Not all web-comics are bad. Ho ho ho.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Three to start off the last week before Christmas:

9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney
The Meaning of Lila by John Forgetta and L.A. Rose
Red and Rovey by Brian Basset

I'm not quite sure where the gag is supposed to be here.

Is it the kid taking off his ear-muffs? Or is the joke supposed to be simply the silent trail off? Strange.

I hope before the end of the week Cy the Cynic develops some true Christmas spirit. I don't care whether West leads a high or low diamond, Cy (East) should just know to return the diamond after taking the trick with his ace. I mean, come on. (Stay tuned for my next blog, the Cy the Cynic is a Stubborn Bonehead Watch. Memo to Frank Stewart: Please bring back Unlucky Louie. At least he's sympathetic.)

S: A Q J 6 4
H: Q 8 5
D: 10 4 2
C: Q 4

S: 10 8
H: A 9
D: K J 5 3
C: J 10 9 5 2

S: 9 5 3
H: 10 7 6 4
D: A 7 6
C: 7 6 3

S: K 7 2
H: K J 3 2
D: Q 9 8
C: A K 8

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Three for this Sunday--a more quiet Sunday than normal.

Andy Capp by Roger Mahoney and Roger Kettle
Marvin by Tom Armstrong
Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller

Marvin does something that I find particularly annoying: The thinking pause.

It's one thing to have an awkward pause in a conversation between two people. That is basically a comedy standard. But a pause in thinking is just artificial. And, yes , I know that real babies don't think in full sentences or engage in self-reflection either. But that is classic comic conceit. The thinking pause is simply cheap.

Right? I'm not grasping at straws, am I?